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  1. #1
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default LiuQin

    The LiuQin is the closest Chinese instrument to the mandolin. I think one of the tunings they use is GDAE. I wonder if anyone has bought one either from an importer in the US or directly from China and if there are some that are decent playable instruments. I don't think I need a professional model like the one this player in the video plays but a decent one to fool around with. It looks and sounds like they bend the strings down toward the fretboard. I just want to try one for old time music.

    I was going to post this in one of the regional forums but there are none for Asian instruments or music. I thought there was a general World Music forum but I guess i just dreamt it. This piece seems to be the "Orange Blossom Special" of liuqin music. Lots of YouTube videos of "The Garder After Rain."



    This sounds more like bluegrass to me (music starts at 47 seconds):

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    David: do you actually own one of those Liuqins you linked to above?
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    David: do you actually own one of those Liuqins you linked to above?
    No, I got a cheap Xinghai model a year or so ago off of Shopgoodwill.

    I have bought many other instruments from Red Music Shop and they have been a reliable source for Chinese musical items.

    I have other Xinhai brand instruments and they are decent quality. Mine is like that

    Of course the Shanghai Dunhuang model is a bit better, it even has fine tuners.

    https://www.redmusicshop.com/Other%2...0Liuqin%20lute

    The two pro models are Xinghai.

    Yes, this is the Chinese instrument most like a mandolin, moreso than the pipa or yueqin. The ruan is close but bigger.

    https://www.easonmusicstore.com/prod...ion-grades-7-8

    method book from Eason music, another reliable source.

    https://www.easonmusicstore.com/coll...-things-liuqin

    Picks, strings and mostly sold out of liuqin.

    Ebay has these lower price ones:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Liuqin-Chin...4AAOSwCtxfQB~H

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Liuqin-hard...oAAOSwX5pcuMGa

    I hope this helps.
    Last edited by DavidKOS; Sep-17-2020 at 6:54am.

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    I guess it is a guess to find out what one would be best to actually play music and is not a piece of junk. Would it be worthwhile to contact Red Music and do they have people there you can trust?

    How is your SGW liuqin? Is it playable? Di you play Chinese music on it or other genres?
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Amazing. I'm waiting to come across an instrument that David doesn't play.

    Mick
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    I traveled to China about 20 years ago and I kinda' fell in love with their music, their art and their culture.

    The er hu is my favorite Chinese instrument. It's one of those upright bowed instruments with only 2 strings. Sounds like a cross between a violin and an English horn. Mournful but beautiful.

    I was lucky enough to buy an er hu (which was a trip unto itself) and took my first lesson backstage at a place very much like in the first vid.

    Here's a picture of my er hu teacher, backstage after a show. She's adjusting my newly bought er hu. She was amused by the big, goofy foreigner that wanted to play Chinese music.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yes, seduced by China. I wanna' go back.

    My apologies to the OP for hijacking his thread.
    Last edited by 40bpm; Sep-17-2020 at 10:49pm. Reason: apology
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I guess it is a guess to find out what one would be best to actually play music and is not a piece of junk. Would it be worthwhile to contact Red Music and do they have people there you can trust?

    How is your SGW liuqin? Is it playable? Di you play Chinese music on it or other genres?
    It works well enough - it's in tune and has decent action. I've seen better ones but for me it's fun to have. It's my 2nd liuqin, my first was an unbranded clunker.

    I do play Chinese music on my liuqin, but not the serious classical stuff, but shorter pieces and popular things I like, such as certain Cantonese and Shanghai tunes.

    I do not have a personal contact at Red Music but they should answer emails.

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    Amazing. I'm waiting to come across an instrument that David doesn't play.

    Mick
    I do not play (or play well enough to count) on stuff like but not limited to:

    Oboe...bassoon...brass instruments...a variety of 5 string banjo styles....fiddle....guitarron....pedal steel....classical piano...hurdy gurdy....accordion....bagpipes...didgeridoo...tabl as.....sitar....sarod...and so on.

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    I love traditional Chinese music and used to search for instruments (long before ebay). But I didn't live in the bay area and so I couldn't find any other than a yangqin. At the time I also played (American made) hammered dulcimer so I didn't do much with my yangqin - too busy with Irish/Scottish airs. I finally obtained a guzheng (through the cafe no less) several years ago and began studying TCM - the very old stuff.



    sorry for lighting - was my first youtube effort i believe..

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by 40bpm View Post
    My apologies to the OP for hijacking his thread.
    No apologies necessary. I specialize in my own form of hijacking but I call it taking a pleasant detour on another connected road or something like that.

    A friend of mine who plays a wide variety of world music instruments took up erhu and I do play fiddle but the erhu would require a little too much off-the-beaten track technique for me. I like Chinese music but the liuqin seems closer to mandolin technique and I would just want to fool with different timbre and the note bending and probably just play some American fiddle tunes or songs.
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    No apologies necessary. I specialize in my own form of hijacking ..... and probably just play some American fiddle tunes or songs.
    "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum!"

    Mick
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    liuqin seems closer to mandolin technique and I would just want to fool with different timbre and the note bending
    Not as much bending as pipa....yes, it is very close to mandolin technique compared to erhu or guzheng.

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    This thread is giving me pleasant flashbacks. Here's a pic from the place I bought my er hu:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    I just found an older thread with a link for this meeting of John Reischman's group with some Chinese musicians playing "Katy Hill". John duets with liuqin player, then pipa, etc.

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Here's a nice piece, evidently another "standard" in liuqin repertoire that reminds me of some of the classical mandolin solo pieces.

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    I still don't know if this is a stupid waste of money but sometimes you just need a new toy. I have found one Xinghai liuqin sold by a store in Toronto that looks pretty good, "professional grade". I have found the same exact model sold by Red Music but with the shipping charges it would come to about the same price and I would get it much sooner. Also the Toronto store assured me that they would make sure it was set up to play well.

    A few things I have learned since I last posted here:
    • The better, mid-grade "professional grade" instruments have fine tuners and metal frets on the bamboo ones.
    • The two major factories of these mid-grade instruments are Xinghai and Shanghai Dunhuang. The one I am considering was labelled on the store site as Oceans of Music but it turns out that is the name of the distributor and the instrument is made by Xinghai or so the store rep told me.
    • Another possibility to consider is the ruan. The ruan comes in a family of five sizes and has a round banjo body
      • soprano: gaoyinruan (高音阮, lit. "high pitched ruan"; tuning: G3-D4-G4-D5)
      • alto: xiaoruan (小阮, lit. "small ruan"; tuning: D3-A3-D4-A4)
      • tenor: zhongruan (中阮, lit. "medium ruan"; tuning: G2-D3-G3-D4)
      • bass: daruan (大阮, lit. "large ruan"; tuning: D2-A2-D3-A3)
      • contrabass: diyinruan (低音阮, lit. "low pitched ruan"; tuning: G1-D2-G2-D3
      • The soprano is probably closest to mandolin scale and tone but are pretty uncommon. The alto is like a mandola and the tenor is the most common and is more like an octave mandolin. There are some beautiful solos played on youtube almost all on the zhongruan (tenor). Like these pieces:




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    Default Re: LiuQin

    It's my understanding that the tonal intervals are not the same as our musical intervals. If that's the case it might prove difficult playing with mandolins and guitars though it would be possible for a skillful violinist to match the intervals of liuqin.

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    That is interesting but I don’t know how true that is for modern fretted Chinese instruments. The frets are raised so your fingers don’t really touch the fingerboard which does allow bending the notes. Listen to the Reichsman video I posted above. At the beginning and around 2:50 John and the liuqin player play together. There is a difference in timbre of the instruments and may be some difference in playing techniques but they don't sound like the mandolin and liuqin are out of tune with each other.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Nov-07-2020 at 9:21am.
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Whoops! Posting on my phone always is problematic. Sorry, I duplicated the above post.
    Last edited by Jim Garber; Nov-07-2020 at 9:22am.
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Hall View Post
    It's my understanding that the tonal intervals are not the same as our musical intervals. If that's the case it might prove difficult playing with mandolins and guitars though it would be possible for a skillful violinist to match the intervals of liuqin.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    That is interesting but I donít know how true that is for modern fretted Chinese instruments.
    Jon's right about older Chinese fretted instruments - and a few folk instruments today - but based on some earlier reforms, after the 1940's the Chinese rationalized frets on almost all instruments to match Western music.

    Even the older flutes had an untempered scale and evenly-spaced fingerholes, whereas for decades Chinese flutes like the dizi and xiao have been made with unevenly spaced holes to match the Western scale.

    http://www.wanyeung.com/pipa.html

    "The pipa has undergone changes since the twentieth century so that it can play chromatic music, have a larger pitch range, and play at a louder volume. A quick comparison between the modern pipa and the Ming pipa in Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York shows that the modern pipa has more frets. Before the 1920s, the most common form of pipa had only four xiangs (wooden frets) and twelve pins (bamboo frets). Musician and educator Cheng Wujia (1901 - 1985) was one of the first to modernize the pipa. By 1928, he developed a pipa with six xiangs and eighteen pins, arranged based on twelve-tone equal temperament (Jia 2007)"

    http://www.philmultic.com/pipa.html

    "Another big change (fusion) occurred to the pipa during the first half of the last century: the traditional pipa with silk strings and pentatonic tuning has developed into the modern pipa with steel strings and chromatic tuning (by increasing the number of frets). The modern instrument is half-pear-shaped, with a short, bent neck, and has 30 frets which extend down the neck and onto the soundboard, giving a wide range and a complete chromatic scale."

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    '`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`'`' Jacob's Avatar
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Hall View Post
    It's my understanding that the tonal intervals are not the same as our musical intervals. If that's the case it might prove difficult playing with mandolins and guitars though it would be possible for a skillful violinist to match the intervals of liuqin.
    All the Chinese fretted string instruments I have played were in equal temperament - 12th root of 2 - the same as Western instruments.
    As previously noted, pun intended, the frets are a different style.
    The strings are pressed against them, and not against the fingerboard.
    I had to deliberately avoid bending notes.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Jacob: I can imagine that the raised frets present a different need for set up as well as playing technique. I do see Chinese players using that fret height for note bending. The liuqins I am looking at have metal frets on top of the wooden risers. I think the earlier instruments like pipa which often used silk strings just had wooden frets.

    I think the instrument you picture is a zhongruan? Is that yours? Do you play these Chinese instruments?
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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Not sure what size ruan is pictured. Twenty plus years ago, on several visits to Clarion Music in San Francisco, I played an assortment of Chinese strings. Never purchased one. There were different fret configurations. Some were all white, perhaps bone or synthetic. My playing clearly identified me as a beginner, so I was invited to attend weekly music classes. Unfortunately, work schedule and distance from the East Bay prevented me from accepting. Back then, the shop had a wide range of fretted and bowed instruments, from student to professional grades.
    Here's a Yueqin with what appear to be wooden frets.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    I found pipa tuning, ADEA, to be as bewildering as Portuguese guitarra.
    Last edited by Jacob; Nov-08-2020 at 12:55pm.

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    Default Re: LiuQin

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
    Not sure what size ruan is pictured. Twenty plus years ago, on several visits to Clarion Music in San Francisco,
    Did you deal with Mr. Ma? His daughter?

    I've seen a (very) few Chinese instruments with metal frets or metal-topped frets. Mostly I've seen bamboo frets or wood and ivory/ivoroid frets.

    On a pipa, the ADEA tuning actually works very well.

    It also related to DADGAD tuning.

    The DGAD is the same tuning transposed. The nanyin pipa still is tuned this way.

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